Ca­reer Fea­ture

Digital Photograper - - Contents -

Fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phy is a com­pet­i­tive genre, so we talk to some pros for their ad­vice on build­ing an en­gag­ing, high­qual­ity port­fo­lio

Col­lat­ing your best work into an en­gag­ing pack­age can be a chal­lenge. We dis­cuss how to get started

Fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phy is a highly com­pet­i­tive genre in which to be­come es­tab­lished and to re­ally suc­ceed in, namely due to the vast num­ber of pho­tog­ra­phers at­tempt­ing it and how truly dif­fi­cult it is for your images to stand out and be no­ticed. The field man­ages to be both niche and very broad at the same time – there are lots of dif­fer­ent ap­pli­ca­tions, but shoot­ing style, pro­fes­sional work­ing prac­tices and tech­ni­cal chal­lenges are largely unique to the genre. It is a hugely pop­u­lar area to tackle amongst emerg­ing pho­tog­ra­phers and while this means that it can be dif­fi­cult to stand out from the crowd, creative in­no­va­tion can be greatly re­warded.

The key chal­lenges as­so­ci­ated with fash­ion shoot­ing re­volve around build­ing a port­fo­lio of images with which to pro­mote your skills and be­gin forg­ing a ca­reer. It can be dif­fi­cult to put your ideas into prac­tice be­cause of con­straints on bud­get and lack of hu­man re­sources, so ‘get­ting a foot in the door’ be­comes a prob­lem far ear­lier than in other ar­eas of pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phy. Firstly there is the lack of ac­cess to light­ing equip­ment and stu­dio space to con­tend with; stu­dio light­ing is ar­guably es­sen­tial for pro-level re­sults, with many light­ing styles im­prac­ti­cal to cre­ate us­ing home-made or im­pro­vised gear. Build­ing an en­tire stu­dio sys­tem is un­re­al­is­ti­cally ex­pen­sive for most begin­ners in the field. Fur­ther­more, stu­dios of­ten cater for large-scale shoots, mean­ing you have to rent an en­tire space and ab­sorb the as­so­ci­ated out­lay. Se­condly, with­out money or in­flu­ence, mod­els for your fash­ion shoots can be hard to come by. Pro­fes­sional mod­els can not be sourced cheaply, so even if you have the gear, you may have no sub­jects. You also have to con­sider props, cloth­ing and make-up, plus make-up artists, with­out which your images can’t rep­re­sent a range of sub­ject mat­ter for your port­fo­lio.

There are so­lu­tions to these prob­lems. A start­ing point for find­ing sub­jects is to search

on­line for lo­cal mod­els who do not have to travel, lim­it­ing these ex­penses. As­pir­ing mod­els may work un­der a TFP (Time For Prints) agree­ment, whereby they give their time to pose for you and re­ceive free images for their port­fo­lio in re­turn. Al­ways agree on the de­tails be­fore con­duct­ing your shoot to pre­vent con­flicts. Be pre­pared to work for free on other jobs too; ex­po­sure of your work and net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties are likely worth more to you than a fee at this stage. To source low-cost or free hair and make-up artists, check lo­cal uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges for stu­dents who seek real-world work ex­pe­ri­ence. Con­sider in­tern­ing at a stu­dio your­self, as this will in­tro­duce you to pro-level pho­tog­ra­phers and mod­els who may spot your tal­ent and agree to work with you in the fu­ture. You may be given sec­ondary pho­tog­ra­pher du­ties which will give you the op­por­tu­nity to shoot well-known names and brands, us­ing a full range of cam­era and light­ing kit. You should also in­ves­ti­gate the pos­si­bil­ity of col­lab­o­rat­ing with other pho­tog­ra­phers who have sim­i­lar re­quire­ments. This can help to spread the cost of hir­ing equip­ment, mod­els and stu­dio space, as well as giv­ing you the chance to share creative ideas.

Pro­duc­ing a qual­ity port­fo­lio of fash­ion photos may ini­tially seem like an up­hill strug­gle, but the ex­pe­ri­ence you gain at this early stage is in­valu­able when you start shoot­ing paid com­mis­sions.


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